Microformats offer significant potential for a number of reasons
a) We are seeiing increasing support from vendors for microformats – Open Social with FOAF, sixapart with technologies like OpenID, the Microformats hCard and XFN, and FOAF , the RDF autdiscovery firefox plugin among others ..
c) Microformats lend themselves to the mobile web because any format that fosters bite sized content and social networks is beneficial for the mobile web
In this blog, I am going to explore something beyond Microformats .. Let’s call it a ‘Wikipedia reputation system’ for the lack of a better word .. And I am seeking to address two different problems –
a) With Wikipedia – we have a reputation problem – i.e. an ‘expert’ who may know more may not be actually represented on the Wikipedia article. But – Is this a really a problem? I.e. how do you say who is the expert? Will the views of a few keep knowledge closed to the many?
b) With the semantic web – we have a different problem. Specifically – who will do the semantics for the semantic web and why?(in other words, add semantic information to the Web so that it can be program readable)
But let’s first start with a site called Naymz – which aims to be a reputation site on the web However, such initiatives have a problem. If my ‘reputation’ depends on updating someone else’s site – then basically it means – If I win the Nobel prize BUT forget to update that site, then my reputation is low – irrespective of my achievements
There are many variants of this theme but they have the same ‘Nobel prize’ problem – and that’s why most people who already have a good reputation will not join a site like this since the good reputation there depends on how many people you invite etc etc i.e. contributing to the site.
Essentially, it is Google bait .. (*Your free premium placement will typically appear on the first page of Google results in the ‘Sponsored Links’ section for searches on your name. Placements are limited to $10 in spend. We reserve the right to remove or discontinue placements at any time.) And you can even pay to repair your reputation
All this CAN be useful to people (for example visibility on Google)– so Naymz may indeed be a good business but in my view, that’s not a true reputation system
However, that does not mean we don’t need a global reputation system ..
One possibility for a global reputation system is Wikipedia with microformats
Wikipedia could be improved by a reputation system .. However, that reputation system has to be emergent ..
One solution( which could utilize Microformats) is to consider an iterative refinement of an article i.e. start with an article but keep refining it. Wikipedia does this anyway – but it does not lend itself to that mechanism. So, I am saying more of a threaded discussion from which expertise would emerge
This is almost like making the ‘discuss’ page of Wikipedia more visible and then putting people who made the best changes on to the main page i.e. experts will emege by their actions in the discussions when their changes have been accepted(a reputation system) from their activity on a globally neutral system(unlike ebay which is a closed, non portable reputation).
At the moment Wikipedia does not act as a reputation system i.e. the people who make the changes are not visible on Wikipedia and are not treated as experts as such
So, if Wikipedia becomes a defacto reputation system – then it becomes more interesting.
Now, add microformats to the mix – and we solve two problems at one stroke .. Wikipedia gets a richer framework since people can be motivated to add contextual information to make their content searchable (and that act directly benefits them anyway) and microformats get their semantics .. and the world gets an open reputation system
Why Wikipedia? Because we need something global, independent and neutral to which we all contribute content and contributing that content with semantics will help Wikipedia with its reputation problem and the semantic web with its semantic motivation problem. And we, as consumers could get a global reputation system
As usual thoughts welcome